Students at the University of Glasgow have successfully conducted a remote lab experiment using 5G network technology and a robotic arm.
The experiment involved assembling and measuring an electrical circuit using robotic equipment situated in the university’s laboratory, but with the operator located in China, and vice versa. It’s believed to be among the first demonstrations of remote robotics being used in a higher education setting.
It’s thought that this experiment has the potential to lead to major economic benefits, as such instantaneous remote communication will ultimately enable factories to be more competitive in a global market. It will also have positive societal repercussions, as factory workers will be able to live in remote and rural areas whilst still being able to access industrial centres.
Paul Coffey, chief executive of The Scotland 5G Centre, said: “A robotic arm is always going to make people sit up and take notice! I am pleased to say that fine-tuning is now complete and this pioneering 5G-based technology is ready to enable manufacturing and other industries to be able to carry out complex tasks from offsite locations.”
The University of Glasgow carried out its experiment as a founding member of The Scotland 5G Centre with funding from the Scottish Government. This initiative has enabled the university to build its own private 5G network ecosystem.
Mr Coffey revealed that there are several other 5G projects in the works across The Scotland 5G Centre’s three founding partners. While the precise nature of these projects isn’t known as yet, they will apparently lead to major benefits for healthcare, manufacturing and education.
The coming year will also see The Scotland 5G Centre rolling out its S5G Connect Programme. This will involve £4m in Scottish government funding being spent on the launch of a number of national 5G hubs. These hubs are expected to work with mobile operators and private network providers to speed up the roll out of 5G across the country.
The first of these 5G hubs will open in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, in May 2021.